The Travel Writing Tribe

Journeys in Search of a Genre

Tim Hannigan

A writer sets out to find the truth about his own genre, from Orientalism and falsehoods to today’s new voices.

Bibliographic Details
The Travel Writing Tribe Hardback
May 2021£20
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Where can travel writing go in the twenty-first century? Author and lifelong travel writing aficionado Tim Hannigan sets out in search of this most venerable of genres, hunting down its legendary practitioners and confronting its greatest controversies. Is it ever okay for travel writers to make things up, and just where does the frontier between fact and fiction lie? What actually is travel writing, and is it just a genre dominated by posh white men? What of travel writing’s queasy colonial connections?

Travelling from Monaco to Eton, from wintry Scotland to sun-scorched Greek hillsides, Hannigan swills beer with the indomitable Dervla Murphy, sips tea with the doyen of British explorers, delves into the diaries of Wilfred Thesiger and Patrick Leigh Fermor, and gains unexpected insights from Colin Thubron, Samanth Subramanian, Kapka Kassabova, William Dalrymple and many others. But along the way he realises how much is at stake: can his own love of travel writing survive this journey?

The Travel Writing Tribe tackles head on the fierce critical debates usually confined to strictly academic discussions of the genre. This highly original book compels readers and travellers of all kinds to think about travel writing in new ways.


Tim Hannigan is a writer and academic, and the author of several narrative history books, including A Brief History of Indonesia and the award-winning Raffles and the British Invasion of Java. He holds a PhD from the University of Leicester. He was born in Cornwall and lives in Ireland.


‘Much more than a who, what and why of travel writing, Tim Hannigan’s book is a meditation on why we travel and our need to travel and experience other places. Essential reading in the age of lockdown and Instagram.’ — Nicholas Walton, author of Singapore, Singapura and Genoa, ‘La Superba’

‘Is travel writing dead? No, claims Hannigan, as he embarks on an intriguing quest to discuss the genre with its practitioners. His lucid study offers an intelligent and entertaining examination of its key aspects, including authenticity, gender, reception, practices and purpose.’ — Barbara Schaff, Chair of British Literature and Culture, Georg-August University Göttingen, and author of Handbook of British Travel Writing